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Yoder Tells Graduates that Community Service, Giving Back in their DNA

Thanks to a student body that is passionate about social responsibility, Keuka College has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past seven years.

Esther Yoder and College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera

Esther Yoder, who delivered the address at the College’s 105th commencement today (May 26) urged members of the Class of 2013 to maintain that commitment to helping others.

“Think about all of the amazing projects you have completed to help someone else,” said Yoder, a 1960 Keuka graduate and resident of Gainesville, Fla. “Yates County will never be the same because of what each of you has done to help people. It is a Keuka College legacy that will be part of your DNA until you draw your last breath.”

Yoder, who also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, challenged the graduates to give back to Keuka College.

“Make a commitment to live into your life by giving back to your alma mater every single year,” she said. “Someone, lots of ‘someones,’ made your education possible because of their generosity and belief that Keuka College students deserve to be assisted in getting their educations. Someone will need your help. That is part of your Keuka DNA , too.”

When former Keuka College President Arthur Kirk asked Yoder to chair the Shaping the Future: One Graduate at a Time campaign, the most ambitious in Keuka annals, she replied, “Fat chance.”

As it turned out, the campaign exceeded its $25 million goal—under the chairmanship of Yoder.

Briana June is all smiles as she receives her diploma (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

“Dr. Kirk (who attended the ceremony) taught me that saying ‘fat chance’ doesn’t really work as an excuse,” said Yoder, who then asked the graduates: “Will those who come behind you find you faithful?”

She followed that question up with a promise: “I will haunt you. You won’t be able to say ‘fat chance’ to anyone. Not once. Not ever.”

Yoder, who grew up on a dairy farm up in West Auburn, Pa., and attended Meshoppen High School, came to Keuka College with little more than the clothes on her back. She earned her degree in Christian education and went to a successful career with Subway. She now owns five stores in Gainesville after developing 171 stores in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia and opening Subways in Canada, Australia, and England.

She was a member of the Keuka College Board of Trustees for the better part of the last 20 years, serving as chair in 2006-07 and vice chair from 2001 to 2006. She is now an emeritus member of the Board. She is one of only six people in Keuka history to receive the Norton-Blyley Presidential Medallion, which recognizes service to the College “above and beyond an extraordinary high standard” and is a recipient of the Alumni Association’s Eleanor Judd Wilkes Service to Keuka Award.

Also at commencement:

Click here for more Commencement photos:http://www.flickr.com/photos/keukacollege/sets/72157634299713719/

4 Responses to Yoder Tells Graduates that Community Service, Giving Back in their DNA

  1. Sharon & Earl McDow says:

    We are so proud of our friend and honorary Grandmother GiGi to our Grandaughter! I guess it will now be Doc Gigi. Thanks for all you have done for Keuka College, Subway, Trinity UMC, UF, Gainesville, and more. You are a living example for all of us. We are grateful! With Love & Respect, Sharon & Earl McDow (Gainesville, FL)

  2. Sharon & Earl McDow says:

    We are so proud of our good friend and the honorary Grandmother GiGi to our Grandaughter! I guess now it may be Doc Gigi. (Smile.).

    Thanks for all you have done for Keuka College, Subway, Trinity UMC, UF, Gainesville, Your Family, and more. You are a living example for all of us. And we are grateful!

    With Love & Respect, Sharon & Earl McDow (Gainesville, FL)

  3. Anne Weed says:

    Thank you, Esther, for a great commencement address, and best wishes to all the graduates. Our thanks as well to colleagues Carolyn Teter, Jane Bonacci, and Michaela Cosgrove for their exemplary commitment to their students and service to the College. And hats off to Mike Rogoff, the 2012-2013 Professor of the Year– well deserved!
    AW

  4. Joe and Diane Burke says:

    Esther Yoder is the epitome of what Keuka College is all about!!! We are deeply disappointed that we were unable to be at this great event. However, we are on our way to Thailand as part of the Fulbright specialist program, sponsored by the US government. We were selected for this program prior to learning about Esther’s reward. However, we are following the values that Esther helped inspire in us during the time we served the college together.

    Also a great kudo to Professor Mike Rogoff, the 2012-2013 Professor of the Year! Great job to all, and a hearty congrats to all the graduates. Go forth and represent your college well!!

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